Back in the 1970s it used be said that the optimists were learning Russian (taught in Belvedere by Fr Schrenk), and the pessimists Chinese. The opposite is true today. After a wonderful visit to China by a group of Irish Principals, including Belvedere’s Gerry Foley, the links have been growing. They reached a high point on 18 November, when the Chinese ambassador, H.E. Mr. Luo Linquan, visited Belvedere to launch the second Confucius Classroom affiliated to the UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland.The photograph shows the Chinese ambassador making a Chinese promise with 1st year student Barry Henehan. The ambassador said to Barry: “Promise to study hard, and the next time we meet we can chat entirely in Chinese!” Read more
The launch was attended by the UCD President Dr. Hugh Brady, Principal of Belvedere College Mr. Gerry Foley, and various representatives from the Irish government, educational institutions and Irish and Chinese business leaders. It was a happy, forward-looking occasion.
Gerry Foley, principal of Belvedere College S.J., said the school started teaching Chinese culture and language as a Transition Year module four years ago, and has been going from strength to strength since, with the emphasis having shifted to the teaching of Mandarin from 1st and 2nd year, eventually foreseeing Mandarin being taught from 1st to 6th year.
“The benefits to the lives and futures of the students are substantial in a number of ways, both measurable, through the learning of the language and the doors this opens, and immeasurable, through the life experience gained” says Mr. Foley, explaining why the Chinese classes and school trips are so important to the students. “Just as important are the international relationships fostered through our Jesuit connections, and this completes a full circle from 1582 when Fr Matteo Ricci was called to Macau on his Jesuit mission.”
He said over 100 pupils had already benefited from taking Chinese lessons and a number of boys had travelled to Beijing last December to experience Chinese culture first-hand, and study in tandem with Chinese students. Dr Liming Wang, director of UCD Confucius Institute for Ireland said the initiative follows from a three-year pilot programme.
“The scope of the Chinese language and culture programme has really become a nationwide endeavour, with schools from Sligo to Wexford and everywhere in between, now numbering close to 50 schools and growing fast” he said. The speeches were followed by 1st and 2nd year Belvedere boys’ performances of Chinese poems and songs, and addresses from past pupils detailing their experiences in relation to Chinese language and culture studies.